APRSAF Space Education Seminar

APRSAF Space Education Seminar: Bringing Astronomy, Space Science and Technology and their Applications into the Classroom

The APRSAF Space Education Seminar: Bringing Astronomy, Space Science and Technology and their Applications into the Classroom was held on the 8th September 2009 at the Arthur C. Clarke Institute for Modern Technologies (ACCIMT) in Sri Lanka. This seminar was held within the framework of the Asia-Pacific Regional Space Agency Forum (APRSAF) and was an initiative of the Space Education and Awareness Working Group.

The seminar was co-organized by ACCIMT and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). The Honorary Minister of Science and Technology of Sri Lanka, Prof. Tissa Vitarana, opened the workshop and spoke passionately about the importance of educating students in the high technology areas of science and engineering and how the context of space can be used to inspire students in these areas. The Chairman and Director of ACCIMT and senior officials of National Institute for Education (NIE) participated in the seminar.

The Space Education Seminar will aim to achieve the following objectives:

  • To enhance understanding of astronomy, space science and technology and their applications among secondary school teachers;

  • To increase appreciation by school teachers of the benefits of space science and technology and their applications for the society;

  • To encourage school teachers to better address and expand science subjects at their schools using space materials; and

  • To promote interactions between educators and space scientists to enhance science education

Fifty school teachers were selected from all over Sri Lanka by the NIE to participate in the seminar. Experts from Australia, Japan and the Philippines were invited to participate in the seminar and share their experiences of using space education materials to teach science.

Ms. Naomi Mathers from the Victorian Space Science Education Centre (VSSEC) in Melbourne, Australia, presented an overview of VSSEC’s programs including the Mission to Mars and the Mission to the Orbiting Space Laboratory. During the day the teachers participated in a variety of hands-on activities including an introduction to CanSat and the materials VSSEC is developing to teach:

  • satellite systems

  • remote sensing

  • climate change

  • satellite communication

  • electronics

The Prof. Hirohama and Ms Takemi Chiku, from the JAXA Space Education Office, introduced the teachers to some of the activities from the Teaching Guides: Science of Flight produced by JAXA. Prior to the seminar the ACCIMT translated these materials into Sinhala and distributed them to the participating teachers. The teachers built and launched film canister rockets and made their own seed pods which they flew in the home made wind tunnel.

The seminar concluded with a tour of the facilities at the ACCIMT and a viewing session in the roof top observatory. There were too many clouds to make use of the 45cm telescope but plans were made to link the ACCIMT and other countries within the Asia-Pacific during the solar eclipse in December. The feedback from the participating teachers was very positive and everyone left with new ideas, including the presenters.

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